I’ve been getting a lot of feedback that people would prefer other themes from me. I understand the thought and truly appreciate that people communicate their thoughts with me. I am just adding this pressure to myself that I have to change and I have to do it quick. I am also starting to get more and more commissions that I am thrilled to do, but have an initial fear, “how am I going to do this?” Doubt starts to creep in.
Two commissions I am working on today are as follows:
1. Transparent man in water with snakes surrounding him. The snakes dive into his heart and remove pain and take it away. The snakes writhe from a giant tube that enters into a pool.
2. Three women. Two sisters holding their mother. One sister was the primary caretaker of their mother as she transitioned into death. The other looks on at her sister and hold her mother on the other side.
3.(not shown) two men on surfboards on a calm day at sea. A whale comes near the son, curious about the craft and it’s keepers. The two figures sit on their boards in awe of this magical creature.
…and there are more…
Do you see where I’m going here? Translating stories into an image is an incredible gift to be able to develop. But I am doubting being able to complete these within a week time period that I have and achieving the unique sense of each. I mean, I don’t know when was the last time I painted snakes in water….never.
As I’m working through these commissions of others and on the brink of going to see family that I just don’t fit in with, I got a bit paralyzed yesterday. I kept working through it yesterday after a break for some pizza and a talk with a friend. But everyday I come to this job that I love, I still bring with me this subtle, nagging fear that I won’t be able to do it. I won’t be able to paint well. There are so many that are better, I’m not creative enough.
I’m not sharing these things in some contest to suffering, this is not my point, it’s just noticing the pressure. In addition to the commissions that need to be done by next week, I also have two shows to prepare and have together in July and August. The people who are showing my work in August suggested that perhaps I don’t do people underwater. Maybe birds and fish, because they don’t want something that resembles last years show. And this is totally and completely acceptable for them to say. I appreciate their feedback. It’s just that I’ve spent half this year preparing the work for this August show, and now basically a month before everything needs to be done, I need to make all new work for it. This is my own pressure, they’re not making me do that. But I really really want to be able to be flexible and still within the places that I can speak authentically to painting. I certainly love painting the creatures of our planet. But one month, 12 paintings and drawings of something new and it better be good damnit…. Diamonds develop under pressure eh?
Here is one sketch for new ideas to show in August:
I suspect that these inclinations to wrestle with my doubt are just part of life unfolding. I know what my next theme is going to explore, but will I be able to execute it in this amount of time I’ve made. What if no one likes it and I can’t be employed by myself anymore for a little bit?
So I sit down and let the thoughts be there and just get to work. I paint and draw and problem solve. I lose sleep. But I am trying this new thing also, where I just am being kind to myself. That includes drinking honey tea. One part water and tea bag and a whole lot of parts honey. I feed my plants and notice them grow. I watch Blue Planet: Coral Reefs. I hug a friend.
I’m sharing this because I hope that anyone who gets down about their struggles with life’s issues will practice kindness to themselves. I haven’t aced it. I am not even close. I just like when people share their experience, personally and it helps me process to share mine. Know that doubt is a sometimes companion. Welcome it. It has secrets to tell you that you might not have known with just happiness and peace. Don’t run from your doubt with substances, belittling and ignoring. It’s a part of you and is to be loved.
I know that if I have to be employed by another person in the future, it will be fine. But most of all, I just have to sit down, let the thoughts keep moving through, but sit focus if even for an hour with just one thing at a time.
Nothing lasts forever. Doubt and hope and love and patience, loss, grieving, joy, glee, anger, gratitude… they ebb in and out like tides and I’m learning how to watch them come and go.